Sound quality on a tenor horn

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by CRIMSONDRAGON, Aug 6, 2011.



    HI guys, I have been struggling the last few months with my playing in terms of sound quality and stamina at times, even tho I am putting hours of practise in was wondering if some of the more experienced guys on here famous and not lol could help!!??
    I have been playing on horn now after not playing for a long while and was on cornet before that but things are very slow in building a lovely mellow sound!.
    I play on a Prestige 2 mouthpiece and I concentrate on mostly long notes of anywhere from 16-24 beats for tone and use the arban for tonguing exercises and lip flexibilty work and have also tried Roger Websters PPP book as well.
    My aim would be to try and attain a sound like the great Sandy Smith right through the range especially the upper register and i'd love to get a golden sound like Sandy who I have always admired, being an avid Dyke fan!!.
    I don't know if Sandy is still around on the forum but if he is maybe he could possibly help and give some advise???
    I am sure there is a lot of different views on how to practise to get a good tone as well as playing with or without pressure and the use of vibrato etc so all help would be greatly appreciated.
    I have recently bought a new Yamaha Neo and I do put the work in playing for over an hour most days with hymn tunes and some lip flexibility work so I am serious about progressing now that I am back in banding but will it take a year or two of continuous long notes and melody playing to achieve the 'golden sound' that Sandy Smith produced??
    Hopefully the guys on here can help and advise a dedicated horn player
    many thanks
  2. Aussie Tuba

    Aussie Tuba Member

    it sounds to me as you are doing all the right things. Might be good to get a tutor to listen to how you produce your notes. You could be practicing incorrectly and thus producing sounds you don't want. A tutor would put you on the right track. But as far as I can tell Long notes produced well can only work to improve what you are doing sound wise. and Hymns played slowly will have the same effect.
  3. monody

    monody Member

    I only suggest this because it happened to me.

    Borrow an old Sovereign that you know sounds good and compare your sounds back to back. Record them so you can really hear the difference and have someone you trust listen to you live.

    There is a _chance_ your horn just doesn't suit you.

    Also, I sound better with a Wick Heritage than I do with a Prestige.

    Like I said; it happened to me.


    Hi guys many thanks for the input it is appreciated.I will try other horns and I plan to get together with someone to listen to me and who will give sound advice!!
    thanks again
  5. Rapier

    Rapier Supporting Member

    The Alliance TH2 works well with the Neo.
  6. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    "Sound quality on a tenor horn"; is that a bit like "Military intelligence" .. ???

    [runs away and hides ... ]
  7. TrumpetTom

    TrumpetTom Member

    Buzzing hymns works well and I think helps with attack too. Other things to make sure your doing are diaphram support and an open throat.
  8. Alyn James

    Alyn James Member

    Everyone's different.
    Long straight notes don't suit me - they make my chops feel tight. I mostly practise long notes (with varied vib speeds) in the context of slow melodies and scale-based exercises.
    "Buzzing" without a mouthpiece doesn't suit me either - my lips are not in the same position without a mouthpiece as they are with one.
    You're right in planning to seek first-hand're also right in wanting to emulate Sandy Smith - the man's a god.
  9. Rapier

    Rapier Supporting Member


    GJG, isn't that like an oxymoron, but without the oxy? ;) :biggrin: :tongue:
  10. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Ow! Touché ... ;)
  11. worzel

    worzel Member

    Have you tried playing just the mouthpiece to see what sort of a sound you get without the help of the horn?

    I don't think it is for anyone. For me it's just an exercise to get me into the habit of using muscle tension rather than mouthpiece pressure to alter pitch.
  12. davidquinlan

    davidquinlan Member

    Also, air speed and tongue level are required for changing pitch, not just muscle tension,but I know what you mean.

    You'll get a lot of advice here on an internet forum but the best way to find what you need to do is to go to a teacher for an evaluation lesson (as has been stated). If they are good, the can watch you play, see how your embouchure is working, watch you breath, how produce notes etc, and most of all listen to your sound. After this they should be able to advise you accordingly.

    Most players tend to "do something" to interfere with their playing, most teachers try and take this "something" away, and get the player to focus on breathing. Be careful of those "use your diaphragm" types... if you weren't using your diaphragm, you wouldn't be breathing full stop.. :)

    If you want to dive more into the theory of brass playing (and demystify the diaphragm... :)), check out books by Claude Gordon (brass playing is no harder than deep breathing), The Trumpet (Howard Snell) and Teaching Brass by Kristian Steenstrup.

    Method books to work on flexibility include Charles Colins Lip Flexibilities, John Rigdgeon How Brass Players do it.

    With regard to mouthpiece choice, practice routines, you need to discover what works for you. A good teacher should advise not dictate... we're all different so what works for one won't necessarily work for another.
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2011
  13. worzel

    worzel Member

    Oh for God's sake. Can we just take it as read that every question could be answered with, "You should really ask someone who knows what they're talking about", and make the wild and possibly dangerous assumption that if someone asks a question on an internet forum then they are interest in the answers, however unqualified, of other users of that forum.
  14. davidquinlan

    davidquinlan Member

    Yes, we are all entitled to answer. The questioner can then take or leave the answers as they see fit.

    When it comes to "how to's" ... some answers are more appropriate than others.

    In my opinion, there is too much anecdotal band-room horlicks relating to how to play / breath / mouthpiece choice spouted on forums such as this (and other brass forums) that only spread misinformation, and in my opinion, bad advice.

    The only assumption I make is that the questioner would like some help, an answer or guidance, sometimes stating the obvious is the answer. They can take it, or leave it.

    Other people are free to answer as they see fit.
  15. TrumpetTom

    TrumpetTom Member

    I've remembered an excersise I used to do when I played with yorkshire coop which helped with sound and intonation: long notes starting on A above what you probably call bottom C, then up a semi tone to Bb, then down a tone to Ab, then up a minor third to B, then down a major third to G and so on.
  16. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    The most important guide to a good sound is your ears. When you are playing/practising listen to yourself all the time and modify your embouchure, diaphragm air pressure etc and listen to the effect on the sound. When you find the right combination, you'll hear it. Once you've heard it, remember it. Any exercise form those suggested will help and also hymn tunes - you can either borrow a cornet player's copy or just play your own parts and again listen to the sounds you are producing.

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